Ultra-running has picked up in India and the need of the hour is advanced guidance on running techniques, nutrition and prevention / management of injuries to sustain the present momentum.
A training camp for ultra-runners is being organized.
“ This is the first time that India’s ultra-running community has come together to hold an informal training camp for some of the leading ultra-runners of the country. It is being funded by friends of the running community,’’ Sunil Chainani, member of the Ultra Running Committee of Athletics Federation of India (AFI), said.
The camp will be held in Bengaluru from August 11 to 18. Anthony Kunkel, a US-based coach, will offer guidance to the runners. A nutritionist and a physiotherapist will also be a part of the camp.
A former national level squash player, Sunil took up running for fun. In 2003, he ran a half marathon and enjoyed it thoroughly. “ Those days there were very few shoe models available, purpose-built for running. I ran wearing a cotton t-shirt,’’ he said. Though he had started running long before the landmark Mumbai Marathon debuted in 2004, Sunil’s journey in running gathered direction only from 2006. Sometime that year, he participated in the Lipton Bangalore International Marathon.
In 2005, the group Runners for Life (RFL) came into being. “ It introduced the concept of strength training to runners,’’ Sunil said. In 2007, RFL started the country’s first ultra-running event, Bangalore Ultra. Sunil made his foray into ultra-running with this event and went on to run several editions, in the process extending the distance he tackled from 50 kilometers to 100 kilometers.
In 2011, he ran the uphill version of Comrades Marathon, the ultramarathon held in South Africa.
“ I am passionate about sports and have been involved in sports for several years now. I am happy to give back to the sporting world,’’ he said. He is now actively involved in co-ordinating for international ultra-running events.
According to Sunil, running too many races is not the way forward for recreational runners and runners of ultra-distances. The training camp, he feels, signifies the start of a properly structured approach. He feels Indian ultra-runners should be able to make a mark at the global level in three to four years.
A regular at Malnad Ultra, Sunil will have to give this trail ultra-running event held in the Western Ghats of South India, a miss this year as he is scheduled to run the New York City Marathon in November 2019. “ I would like to go back to South Africa to run the Comrades Marathon,’’ he said.
(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)